The nance is a slow-growing large shrub or tree to 33 ft (10 m) high, or, in certain situations, even reaching 66 ft (20 m); varying in form from round-topped and spreading to narrow and compact; the trunk short or tall, crooked or straight. Young branches are densely coated with russet hairs. The opposite leaves, ovate to elliptic or oblong-elliptic, may be 1 1/4 to 6 1/2 in (3.2-17 cm) long and 1 1/2 to 2 3/4 in (4-7 cm) wide, rounded or pointed at the apex, blunt or pointed at the base; leathery, usually glossy on the upper surface and more or less brown- or gray-hairy on the underside. The flowers, borne in thinly or conspicuously red-hairy, erect racemes 4 to 8 in (10-20 cm) long, are 1/2 to 3/4 in (1.25-2 cm) wide; the 5 petals yellow at first, changing to dull orange-red. The fruit is peculiarly odorous, orange-yellow, round, 5/16 to 7/16 in (8-12 cm) wide, with thin skin and white, juicy, oily pulp varying in flavor from insipid to sweet, acid, or cheese-like. There is a single, fairly large, stone containing 1 to 3 white seeds.